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The pinnacle of amateur football

The UEFA Regions' Cup trophy
The UEFA Regions' Cup trophy ©Sportsfile

The UEFA Regions' Cup brings together the best amateur teams in the continent.

A tournament for amateur sides was first suggested by the UEFA Amateur Committee in February 1965, and was approved by the UEFA Executive committee and launched the same year as the UEFA Amateur Cup. However, due to the difficulty in defining what constituted an amateur player, only 12 of the 33 UEFA nations of the time submitted teams.

The original tournament remit insisted that only associations with a professional or non-amateur top division could enter the competition. Thus, the former Eastern Bloc countries – where top sportsmen were still classed as amateurs – and Scandinavian nations, whose top divisions were still amateur, were excluded.

Undeterred, the 12 teams involved played each other home and away in four three-team qualifying groups between February and December 1966 leading to a four-team final tournament in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, with Austria beating their Scottish counterparts 2-1 on 18 June 1967 to take the title.

Spain triumphed at the second Amateur Cup finals in Forte dei Marmi, Italy, in 1970, while the 1974 final was to prove – literally – a non-event, as West Germany and Yugoslavia agreed to share the title rather than play a final.

Yugoslavia would go on to take sole command of the title, winning the 1978 edition in Greece. With only ten nations having entered the qualifiers; that was to prove the last final until the newly-formed UEFA Committee for Amateur Football decided to resurrect the idea of a continental amateur competition in 1996. This time, with no more Eastern Bloc or Scandinavian problems, the tournament has proved much more successful.

With the UEFA Regions' Cup being contested primarily on a regional rather than national basis, Italian representatives Veneto won the inaugural competition on home territory in 1999. The Czech Republic's Central Moravia won the second edition as hosts in 2001, with Italy's Piemonte Valle d'Aosta taking the 2003 crown in Germany.

A team representing Spain's Basque Country won the 2005 tournament in Poland, while it was the latter nation's Dolnośląski who prevailed in Bulgaria in 2007. Castilla y León won in Croatia in 2009, home side Braga triumphed in 2011, and Veneto became the first side to win the competition twice when they played host to the 2013 finals.

Republic of Ireland's Eastern Region won as hosts in Dublin two years later by beating Zagreb, who gained the trophy in Istanbul two years later by beating Ireland's Region 2, containing many of the players from the 2015 winning squad.

Dolnośląski matched Veneto as two-time champions in 2019, like in 2007 beating the hosts, Bavaria, 3-2 in a final with five penalties (four converted, the other scored on the rebound).

After the 2020/21 edition was cancelled due to COVID, the competition returned as normal for the next scheduled edition. Galicia became the third different Spanish region to triumph, and sixth victorious hosts, defeating first Serbian finalists FA of Belgrade 3-1 in the decider.